How to get the best currency exchange rates
Discovering the ideal currency to carry for your Egypt journey can significantly impact your travel budget. The official currency of Egypt is the Egyptian pound (LE), and understanding the currency exchange dynamics can save you money.
- Rather than converting your money prior to arrival, consider waiting until you’re in Egypt for a more favorable exchange rate without currency exchange fees.
- Accepted currencies include Euros, US dollars, AUS dollars and British pounds, offering flexibility in payment methods.
- Remember the rates can change either way overnight so check the rate daily.
Cash is King in Egypt
To maximize your spending power, it’s advisable to exchange your foreign currency into Egyptian pounds to have on hand to pay for smaller tranactions. While Euros, dollars, and sterling notes are widely accepted, opting for Egyptian pounds can stretch your funds further, especially when buying smaller items, such as toiletries, water, snacks, souvenirs.
- For best rates go to the nearest currency exchange shops or banks, and these are readily available across all Egyptian cities. Exchange shops have shorter waiting lines than banks. NOTE: you now need your passport with you at both exchange shops and banks.
- If you are trying to buy something expensive, and your bargaining skills are good, you should try asking if paying in US dollars or Euros would reduce the price somewhat. Everyone wants these currencies so it’s worth a shot. However, keep your wits about you and keep the exchange rate of the day in mind.
When it comes to payment methods in Egypt, a blend of cash and cards is the key to a smooth financial experience. To strike a balance between convenience and cost-effectiveness, it’s recommended to have a mix of Egyptian pounds in cash and a credit card on hand. While cards offer convenience, understanding the preference for cash payments can help you get a better deal.
While some big hotels in Cairo have ATMS that dispense foreign currency that is not true for the rest of Egypt so it is advisable that you take enough foreign currency notes with you when travelling to Egypt – at least as a back up – do not rely on your cards totally.
While Visa and Mastercard are generally welcome in most hotels and restaurants, many shops do not accept cards. Also note that travellers cheques are practically unknown in Egypt now and American Express is not accepted everywhere as readily as visa and mastercard.
Remember to notify your bank that you are going to Egypt. If you forget you could find your card is flagged and frozen when you try to use it abroad. You might also want to change the daily limit on what you can withdraw from an ATM.
In locations where cards are an option:
- it’s customary for customers to bear the brunt of the bank processing fee, which tends to average around 3%.
- Traders do not want to pay the high bank fees for processing cards – this will impact the price you pay.
Contactless Payments – Google Pay etc.
Regardless of what advertising says about being able to use money cards anywhere in the world, you need to be aware that while the banks and card companies say this – that does not necessarily mean that traders etc. in Egypt who do accept card payments, will accept lesser known cards than the usual visa or mastercard. Nor does it mean they have a machine that allows for contactless payment. It is advisable to have a backup method of payment if your card has been launched on the market in the last 5 years.
ATM machines are in all the major hotels and outside banks in the major towns in Egypt. Putting your money into your credit/debit card before you come and drawing it out at the ATM’s is a good idea if you are worried about losing your cash. However, as with everywhere else, there are daily limits on ATMS.
I don’t mean the daily limit on your card – I mean the ATMS have limits on how much a person can withdraw in one transaction. This does not mean you can’t do two or more transactions at the same ATM. For example if you want 8,000 LE and there is a limit of 4,000 Le per transaction you can make two transactions one after the other for 4,000 LE each. Even better, you can go to a different bank or even a different branch of the same bank and take out more – up to your own card’s daily limit.
If the ATM is not working or there isn’t one
If you are in an emergency situation and can’t find an ATM, need more money than the ATMs will give, or are having some other problem, note that it is possible in Egypt to go to a bank and take out money from the cashier with your card, as long as you have your passport with you.
200 Le note
100 Le note
50 Le note
20 Le note
10 Le note
5 Le note
1 Le COIN
50 piastres coin = half of 1 Le
25 piastres coin = quarter of 1 Le
Can I use FOREIGN coins to tip in Egypt?
No! Please don’t tip Egyptians with COINS from your own country. They cannot change them in the banks – they can only change them with other tourists – making foreign coins practically worthless.
When individuals approach you on the street, displaying euros, sterling, or foreign coins, they are not seeking charity. Rather, they are inquiring whether you can assist them in converting these coins into Egyptian or foreign banknotes, as they are unable to use or exchange the coins directly. At Mara House, our neighbors often approach us with such requests to convert euro and US coins into banknotes. However, we cannot always accommodate these requests, as it would entail asking our guests to accept the coins in exchange for banknotes. In reality, most travelers prefer not to carry a significant amount of coins during their journeys
There is a 1LE coin which you have to examine carefully because it is very very similar to the 1 Euro coins.
Best currency for paying for your accommodation
Where can I get SMALL Change in Egypt?
Having a constant supply of small change in Egyptian currency can be a problem. Don’t assume the banks, boats, or hotels are being nasty or not cooperative by not changing your 100 Egyptian Pound notes for smaller change. It is highly likely they don’t have it. The smaller currencies (1le, 5le, 10le, 20le, and 50le) are in constant circulation, so nobody actually lodges them back to the banks. There is no reason for boats, hotels, etc to have them, especially as so many tourists now use credit or bank cards to pay their bills.
So, where do I find small change? From the people who deal in cheap goods, and there are several of these on every street, just open your eyes and be aware of them. You don’t have to buy anything; just smile and ask for change. The baker, fruit juice shop, small grocery shop, fruit and vegetable sellers in the street, toilet attendants at the sites, and in all toilets where tips are given, you could try the taxi driver or calesh driver if using them. If you have a nice taxi driver, you could ask him to stop at one of these places and get the change for you.
What are the most common FOREIGN currencies accepted?
- English Pounds,
- US Dollars
- Australian Dollars.
- Swiss Franc